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The GOP campaign

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 13, 2000

Bush pledges to beef up defense spending

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- George W. Bush pledged Saturday to "restore the military power of the United States" as he and former rival John McCain completed a three-day Western campaign tour.

Both Bush and Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., sounded military themes, here in McCain's home state and earlier at a rally near a naval complex in Everett, Wash.

They were Bush's final campaign events before he steps out of the spotlight for the Democratic National Convention.

"This administration for seven years has squandered the political capital of a previous administration," Bush told a courthouse rally here. "We will restore the military power of the United States. We do so to keep the peace."

McCain, defeated by Bush in the Republican presidential primaries, compared him to a conservative Arizona hero, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater. McCain noted Goldwater had begun his 1964 presidential campaign from the same Yavapai County Courthouse were he and Bush were speaking.

"Barry Goldwater didn't win. But his spirit . . . of conservatism, of an inclusive party . . . are here today" in Bush, McCain said.

Earlier, with the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as a backdrop, Bush issued an appeal to those in uniform: "Stay in the military, there's a new commander in chief coming."

Cheney's retirement package defended

The Bush campaign on Saturday defended the $20-million retirement package vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney got from the energy services company he quit to run for office, saying there was nothing illegal or compromising about the transaction.

"Of course the (company's) rules allow this or he wouldn't have done it," Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said.

She dismissed criticism that the payout means Cheney and Bush are in the debt of the oil industry and beholden to its agenda. Bush worked on oil-drilling ventures as a young man, although he made his millions as part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

"The American people should be pleased that they have a nominee who was successful in the private sector," Hughes said. "That's in stark contrast to the Democratic ticket. They both have only public-sector experience."

Bush declined to discuss Cheney with reporters.

The board of Halliburton Co., a worldwide oil engineering and services company based in Dallas, designated Cheney's resignation as an early retirement, and allowed him to avoid financial penalties.

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